Saturday, January 5, 2008

More muffins

When I asked Brianna what we should make for breakfast this morning, she immediately requested coffeecake muffins. 

Not surprising, since she wanted them earlier in the week when I made the Gingerbread Muffins. Since I had everything we needed, that's what we made.  The recipe I used was based on one from my copy of Baking Illustrated.  It's pretty easy to make, since it uses the food processor.  First you pulse together nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon and transfer to another bowl.  The flour, sugar and salt are pulsed together and then butter is cut in.  Some of the flour mixture joins the nut mixture to complete the topping, and leaveners are added to the processor bowl.  Sour cream, an egg and vanilla are whisked together and are added to flour mixture.  When everything is pulsed together, a pretty thick batter is created.  Then some of the topping is added back to the batter and pulsed just enough to swirl things together.  I used a #16 disher--I love these things--to portion the batter into the muffin pan and then added the topping.  Into the oven they went, and I had to endure the endless questioning--"Are they done yet?  Can I do the icing yet?  When will I get to do the icing?  Is it my turn yet?"

So here's Brianna, helping with her favorite part:

And showing off her completed masterpiece:

The biggest change I made this time was to do a different icing.  The one we usually do is pretty much just powdered sugar and a bit of milk, and while it's a nice complement to the muffin, it's pretty sweet.  After seeing this blog entry over at Dine and Dish, I was inspired to make a cream cheese icing instead.  It stayed sticky a lot longer than the other glaze, but boy was it tasty.  =)  Next time I'll take the cream cheese and butter for the icing out to soften when I start making the muffin batter.  Since I was pretty much making things up as I went along, this time I had to resort to softening them in the microwave.  

So here's the recipe:

Coffeecake Muffins 
(adapted from CI)

non-stick baking spray (with flour)
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 oz) unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (2 oz) pecans, coarsely chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups (10 oz) unbleached all-purposed flour (I use King Arthur)
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
1 tsp table salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 egg
3/4 cup (6 oz) sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick baking spray (such as Pam for Baking).  Cut butter into 1/2" cubes and set aside to soften slightly.

Put dark brown sugar in bowl of food processor and process to break it up.  Add pecans and cinnamon and process until nuts are very finely chopped.  Transfer to a medium bowl.

Add flour, sugar and salt to processor bowl and pulse to combine.  Scatter butter cubes over flour mixture and process until butter pieces are oat sized.  Remove 1 cup of flour/butter mixture and add to bowl containing nut mixture.  Mix with a fork to make streusel topping.  Add baking powder and baking soda to flour mixture remaining in processor bowl.  Pulse to combine.  

In small bowl or liquid measuring cup, beat egg slightly and then whisk in sour cream and vanilla.  Pour over flour mixture and process just until a thick batter is formed (about 5 seconds).  Take 3/4 cup of the streusel topping and add it back to the batter in the food processor.  Pulse until just distributed through the batter.

Distribute the batter into the 12 muffin cups (a #16 disher or 1/4 cup measure works well).  Sprinkle each with streusel and press lightly to make sure the streusel sinks into the batter a bit.
Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it.  Cool in pan about 5 minutes, then tranfer to a wire rack.

While muffins are baking, prepare the icing:

1/4 cup (2 oz) cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat since it's what I had)
1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (4 oz) powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk

In a medium bowl, whisk together cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Whisk in salt and vanilla.  Add powdered sugar and milk and whisk until icing is free of lumps.  Add more milk if thinner icing is desired.  

Drizzle the icing over the warm muffins and serve.  

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